The new White House website debuted Tuesday with several surprisingly candid biographies of the nation’s presidents and first ladies.
The site puts a journalistic spin on previous presidents, assessing their weaknesses and strengths and wavering between critical and kind.
Consider a few.
Why Jimmy Carter was a one-term president: “Jimmy Carter aspired to make Government 'competent and compassionate,' responsive to the American people and their expectations. His achievements were notable, but in an era of rising energy costs, mounting inflation, and continuing tensions, it was impossible for his administration to meet these high expectations.”
Bill Clinton's low point (detailed in a slightly jumbled passage): “In 1998, as a result of issues surrounding personal indiscretions with a young woman White House intern, Clinton was the second U.S. president to be impeached by the House of Representatives.”
How George H.W. Bush lost the presidency: “Despite unprecedented popularity from this military and diplomatic triumph, Bush was unable to withstand discontent at home from a faltering economy, rising violence in inner cities, and continued high deficit spending. In 1992 he lost his bid for reelection to Democrat William Clinton.
Hillary Rodham Clinton's tenure as first lady and her "public involvement with many activities sometimes led to controversy," the site reads, mentioning her bid to establish universal health care in 1994, but glossing over its failure.
It appeared that the bios may have been rolled over from the Bush White House website. An Obama spokesman didn’t respond to a request for information.
Although a different section of the website criticizes George W. Bush for his administration’s “unconscionable ineptitude” in responding to Hurricane Katrina, there is no mention of Katrina in Bush’s official biography.
He does get props, however, for his handling of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“On the morning of September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked our Nation,” the Bush bio reads. “President Bush took unprecedented steps to protect our homeland and create a world free from terror. He was grateful for the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform and their families. The President believed that by helping build free and prosperous societies, our Nation and our friends and allies can succeed in making America more secure and the world more peaceful.”
Despite what the biography says, Bush’s cat, Willie, is no longer with the former first family. The American shorthair died two weeks ago.